When Therapy Makes You More Depressed, Here’s What to Do!

Last Update on February 16, 2024 : Published on February 17, 2024

We often see therapy as a shining beacon of hope, a safe space where we can be ourselves, unpack the heavy emotional baggage we carry, and start our journey toward healing. Despite that, there are times during the therapy when sessions can turn unexpectedly rough. Instead of feeling better and healing, you find yourself feeling more depressed than ever. 

If you can resonate with this experience, then you’re not alone. Many people find that therapy initially worsens their feelings of depression, sadness, anxiety, and despair. But, fret not. There are ways you can cross this barrier and come out stronger and resilient on the other side. 

Now, before we go ahead and read why therapy makes you more depressed, let’s first understand how therapy helps us. Therapy can offer a supportive environment where you can explore your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors under the guidance of a trained professional.

Through various therapeutic techniques, you can gain insight into your struggles, develop healthy coping skills, and change your mindset to a positive one. 

“Why Does Therapy Make Me More Depressed?”

1. Talking About Deep-Rooted Issues 

When you talk about deep-rooted issues, then therapy can bring long-buried emotions to the surface. As you move more into the past traumas or challenging experiences you’ve been through, then it can be natural for your emotions to intensify before they can begin to heal properly. 

2. Facing Painful Realizations 

Another thing that can cause therapy to make you depressed is when you are met with painful realizations. Therapy often encourages introspection, which means confronting some uncomfortable truths about yourself and your life circumstances. This can be distressing in the beginning, causing you to feel heightened emotions such as depression and anxiety.

3. Stirring Bottled-Up Emotions 

To cope with difficult experiences, you might have unconsciously buried or repressed some of your intense emotions. Therapy, here, can act as a catalyst for these bottled-up emotions to come to the surface. Therapy can stir up these emotions before you can process them and release them in your own time. 

4. Change in Perspectives 

As you learn new insights and gain perspectives in therapy, your worldview changes and your mindset goes through significant changes. Adjusting to these changes can be quite disorienting and can temporarily increase feelings of sadness, anxiety, distress, and confusion. 

5. Transference and Countertransference 

Transference happens when you unconsciously attribute feelings from past relationships to your therapist, while countertransference is the therapist’s emotional reaction to your experiences. When this happens in therapy, it can trigger unresolved issues or relational patterns, causing increased distress in therapy. 

6. The Fear of Change 

Despite wanting to feel better and heal, the idea of change can be daunting. Therapy involves questioning and changing ingrained thinking patterns and behavior, which can trigger fear and resistance. This fear of change or the fear of losing your coping mechanisms can cause feelings of isolation and depression. 

How to Address Therapy-Related Depression?

1. Talk to Your Therapist:

Express your thoughts and concerns openly with your therapist. Your therapist is there to support you through difficult times and can tailor the therapeutic approach to suit your needs, even the depression caused by therapy. 

2. Have Realistic Expectations:

Understand that recovery and healing in therapy aren’t linear. There will be ups and downs along the way, and it’s OK to face setbacks. Trust that the process will work out and be patient with yourself. If you still feel that therapy is making depression worse, talk to your therapist. 

3. Practice Self-Compassion:

Learn to be kind to yourself when you’re in therapy. Acknowledge that it takes courage to confront your emotions and vulnerabilities, so treat yourself with the same kindness, love, and compassion you would offer a loved one in distress. 

4. Adopt Healthy Coping Strategies:

You can also find healthy coping strategies to alleviate the distress you’re facing in the initial days of therapy. This can include journaling, engaging in hobbies, spending time outdoors, and reaching out to loved ones for support. 

5. Practice Mindfulness Techniques:

You can also add mindfulness techniques or grounding exercises to your daily routine. These practices can help you stay grounded in the present moment and manage overwhelming emotions. 

6. Take Care of Yourself:

Prioritize your self-care to nurture your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. This can include getting enough sleep, eating nourished foods, exercising regularly, and practicing relaxation techniques. 

7. Seek Additional Support:

If therapy alone isn’t helping you to address your mental health issues, then you can consider seeking other treatment options such as medication management and alternative therapies such as expressive arts therapy, acupuncture, etc. 

Talk to a Therapist Today For Help! 

Wrapping Up…

Experiencing increased feelings of depression during therapy can be truly distressing, but it’s important to remember that it’s a common experience that many people face on their way to healing. When you know what causes therapy-induced depression, you can implement the right strategies to address these challenges. 

With courage, hope, and resilience, you can come out stronger on the other side of the darkened tunnel. Trust the therapy process, be kind and gentle towards yourself, and remember that healing is a journey with twists and turns that eventually lead to a happier and healthier life. 

I hope this blog helped you understand why therapy is making you more depressed and what to do about it. You can write to us in the comments section below with your thoughts and views on how therapy helps and tips you find useful to deal with therapy-related depression. 

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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